I found a shocking declassified CIA NSC briefing on the alleged proposal here.

It claims:

Afghanistan Foreign Minister requests U.S. aid to bring about Afghanistan-Pakistan merger. He claims this is the only way to keep Afghanistan out of increasing Soviet economic envelopment and a matter of life and death for his country. However, Pakistan Prime Minister, Mohammad Ali, who has already been approached, reportedly suspicious of this plan.

The document goes on about talks in Pakistani-Afghan circles on even the possibility of a confederation if not a full merger. It also claims that the Agha Khan was using his influence on Pakistan to make it happen. It also correctly assess that such negotiations were unlikely to yield any results due to internal complications (Economic differences, Pashtunistan controversy) and expected foreign opposition from Soviet Union and India. One thing is clear however that Afghan foreign ministry had already proposed it and was rebuffed quietly by their Pakistani counterparts, which is why they sought American aid in bringing the Pakistanis to the table.

I can understand why the Pakistani PM Mohammad Ali Bogra would be skeptical of any such Afghan proposals due to Afghan-instigated (Quoting CIA here) Pashtunistan controversy, Afghan refusal to acknowledge the border between the two states, Afghan close ties with Pakistan's arch rival India, Afghan-Pakistan border skirmishes and Afghan support for Faqir Ippi rebellion. But the proposal, if accepted, could also have meant an entirely alternate world in which, potentially,:

  1. There would be no Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
  2. No consequent creation of Mujahideen and radicalisation of the region.
  3. No American support for the notorious dictator Zia ul Haq.
  4. No rise of terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Taliban etc and therefore no 9/11 or war on terror.
  5. Soviet Union may have survived and the World wouldn't have become uni-polar.

That's why it intrigues me. But I can't find the exact details of the proposal. Was it just an abstract idea? Or were there at least some details attached to the proposal e.g. hypothetically the Afghan King becoming the Head of State for the United Afpakistan and Pakistani government assuming all other roles or Afghanistan retaining most of internal autonomy but delegating Defence and Foreign affairs to Pakistan.

2 Answers 2


I have found the details in Soviet-Pakistan Relations and Post-Soviet Dynamics, 1947–92 by Hafeez Malik. The following is all from the above cited book.

It started in ‘56 when a meeting was called to address the Afghan Problem. Though Pakistani Army Chief General Ayub Khan proposed some “strategic bombing and armoured thrust”, the Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan proposed a different path, a confederation.

The Ambassador first met Afghan King Zahir Shah and got his assent for the plan. After taking the Royals into confidence, he met Daud Khan (Afghan Royal premier) and removed his doubts. A meeting was arranged between the heads of state, at which Daud Khan proposed:

  • internal autonomy for both Countries
  • central government for Defence, communication, foreign policy and trade.
  • PMs would rotate.

It was also proposed that the new confederation would be a constitutional Monarchy. Pakistani PM Noon agreed to have Zahir Shah as Country's monarch and constitutional head and Afghanistan agreed to become a parliamentary democracy like Pakistan.

"In his grand way [Noon] said we should have no difficulty accepting King Zahir Shah as the constitutional head of state. 'After all, for some time after independence we had a Christian queen. Now we would have a Muslim man'. President Mirza concurred in this."


I noted that Pakistan was a democratic country and asked what would be the position of the King. He promptly replied, 'We shall be a republic if Pakistan so desires'.

At that stage, The US welcomed this proposal and was ready to incorporate Afghanistan into its sphere. US not only was ready to expand the Karachi harbour but was also ready to expand the the Afghanistan rail network to pass Jalalabad into Torkham and the Chaman railway to Jalalabad.

As to the USA, Aslam Khattak says, "The Americans agreed to help in a big way. They were prepared to enlarge Karachi harbour and to develop another port. They agreed to provide fifty locomotives and five hundred wagons and to extend the Chaman railway to Kandahar and the Torkham rail line to Jalalabad. Sardar Daud wanted them to extend the Jalalabad railhead to Kabul and to commit to connect Kandahar and Kabul by rail." They had actually got into post- confederation details.

Relationships were cordial and Things were speeding up with post confederation details starting to be discussed and then just as abruptly the movement had started, it came to an end. There is no conclusive reason given for this but following are thought to be possible causes of the fall out:

  • Bacha Khan influenced Kabul to raise up issue of Pashtunistan and make it a confederation of Afghanistan, Pashtunistan and Pakistan. Pakistan rejected the notion straight away and upheld that there is no Pashtunistan and any arrangement will be between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Afghan Premier refused to drop the demand and Pakistan saw it as a backdoor attempt of Afghans to get Pakistan recognise the secessionist movement in guise of negotiations.
  • Pakistani Army Chief Ayub Khan's coup of 1958 may have been another reason. As already noted, despite being an ethnic Pashtun, Ayub Khan was more in the favour of sorting Afghans out instead of forming a confederation. It is also entirely possible that he simply had no interest to pursue policies of his predecessors.
  • Ayub Khan's FM and future PM of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is also a possible factor. He was not in the favour of any sort of union with economically weak Afghanistan who he saw as a liability whereas Pakistan's economy growth in mid 50s and 60s was one of Asia's fastest.
  • Differences in the process may have been another reason. Afghanistan advocated quick merger and union. Whereas Pakistan wanted a slow process with gradual steps beginning with soft borders and customs union, evaluated at fixed intervals and then moving to next steps of integration.

The Afghan Ambassador to UN proposed the confederation to the Americans in 1952. Some Pakistani officials welcomed it but others were concerned that the Afghans were being duplicitous because they wanted 'Pashtunistan' to be separate entity. In other words, under cover of a federation, the Afghans were trying to divide Pakistan and reclaim their former territory in the North West and Baluchistan. However, the Pashtun monarchy and dominant class also were wary of their Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara minorities. The problem was that Pashtun areas are either ungovernable or not worth governing. America too turned lukewarm. Pakistan and Turkey had professional armies whereas the Afghan army was weaker than some of the tribal militias.

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